Morality: Who Needs God? – Introduction

What is morality? The Biblical definition of morality is the standard of righteous living given to us by God. Moses said it like this on Gods behalf: “For I am the Lord who brings you up out of the land of Egypt, to be your God. You shall therefore be holy, for I am holy” (Lev. 11:45). God Himself is holy, and therefore He sets the standard of morality. We can plainly see in the text that God holds Himself up as the standard of that which is holy.

However, what we must not overlook is that God also calls man to be holy as He is. Peter would say it like this: “but as He who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct, because it is written, “Be holy, for I am holy” (1 Pet. 1:15-16). The Word of God, as given to us by Peter, clearly shows us that our conduct is tied to the holiness from which God has given the example. You see, man cannot be born a child and teach himself to be moral. Rather every person must be taught that which is moral and immoral.

Even those who profess to be Atheist have a knowledge of what is right and wrong, but not because they taught themselves. Rather, they are taught by their parents, their friends, their teachers, and others as to what is acceptable concerning their behavior. You see the question that the Atheist must ask him or herself is this: where did the ones who taught me morality learn what morality is?

If any person were to ask that question and be diligent in their efforts to find out where any one of us learns what is right and wrong, they would find their answer in (Gen. 1:26). “Then God said, “Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness; let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, over the birds of the air, and over the cattle, over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth” (Gen. 1:26).

Friends, the image of God is the image of holiness in which we are called to live up to. God Himself is holy and has set the standard for all. Thus John proclaims in (Rev. 4:8b) “Holy, holy, holy, Lord God Almighty, Who was and is and is to come!”

To be continued next week.

Dominica Relief Efforts

I know that so many of us in the Houston area have been hurt by the floods, and have been giving generously to help our families and friends recover. But there is a tremendous, urgent need for help for those is Dominica. There is no power, the water system is compromised, there is not enough food, folks are living in homes without roofs, vehicles have been lost or damaged.

Can you find a way to make a contribution to the Dominica Maria Relief Fund–right away. The sooner we can get enough funds the quicker we can purchase and ship them. I know this will be a long recovery period, but the need for food and shelter is desperate right now. Send a check to Pearland Church of Christ, address is 2217 N. Grand Blvd, Pearland, Texas 77581. Or more directly to Bronx Church of Christ, C/O John Massicott, 448 185th St, Bronx, NY, 10458.

Ask if your congregation can take up a special contribution, and ask them to do it soon.

Ralph Bryant

Why Some Disciples Turn Away From Christ

There are many reasons why people turn their backs on Christ’s church. Among them are:

Discouragement. This may be in their personal or family life. They may be discouraged by difficulties in the church.

Weakness of character and purpose. Some folks find it hard to live a disciplined life, to set a goal and pursue it, and to be faithful unto death (Rev. 2:10). They start with good intentions, but falter and fall along the way.

False expectations of the church and their fellow-Christians. They expect perfect churches and Christians, and are disheartened when they find that all are imperfect just as they are.

Poor experiences in worship and instruction in the church cause some to go astray. Lackluster worship, poor quality preaching that lacks a solid Biblical basis, and sermons that are filled with personal opinions and thoughtless assertions leave folks hungering and thirsting for righteousness. They go elsewhere to find it.

Disillusionment with Christianity in general and the church in particular. This affects many of our contemporaries.

Worldly influences that draw them away from Christ and His church, such as worldly friends, lodges, clubs, and recreation. They don’t have enough time left in their lives for Christ and the church.

Bad experiences with one or more Christians that hurt them and caused them to wrongly conclude that all Christians were like that.

Lack of encouragement in their early days in Christ, or when they went through some trying times. Like babies, most of us need help in learning to walk with Christ (Gal. 6:1-2).

Some are captured by teachers from their former religious connections. Not knowing how to explain their new-found faith or to respond to the false teaching, they are ensnared.

Giving heed to seducing spirits and doctrines of devils causes many to go astray (I Tim. 4:1). Some are confused by television preachers or denominational books and literature they read.

A failure to break their ties with influential worldly people who eventually draw them back into sin. This might include some family members, and especially social ties (I Cor. 15:33).

A lack of genuine repentance towards their old life and true, heart-changing conversion. They never died to sin (Rom. 6:2). In time sin reasserts itself and sweeps them away (Rom. 7:9).

A rebellious heart that was never brought into full subjection to Christ, His Word and His Way.

Stubbornness causes some to fall away. They hate to give up cherished beliefs or activities that are detrimental to faithfulness. They resent correction.

False pride which makes some feel they should be able to tell the church what to believe, teach and practice. When their ideas are rejected, their pride is wounded. Then they go elsewhere hoping to be able to assert themselves.

Advanced worldly education and attainments that make some feel too knowledgeable or too important to stay with people who are simple and old-fashioned enough to strictly follow the Bible pattern.

Legalism, judgment and self-righteousness on the part of church members will drive away those who long for a peaceful, devout spiritual environment.

Skeptical, liberal preachers, who lurk among us like wolves around sheep, undermine some who have had their faith in the Bible, the church, and her Bible-based doctrine and worship.

Some have been overtaken in transgression, and no strong Christian stopped to rescue them and get them back on the straight and narrow way (Gal. 6:1).

Our task is to restore such brothers and sisters in a spirit of gentleness, looking to ourselves lest we also be tempted.

Reflections On Sunday Night’s Class

Ephesians 5:19-20 “addressing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody to the Lord with your heart, 20 giving thanks always and for everything to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ,”

Colossians 3:16 “Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God.”

The discussion we had Sunday night in our assembly about the way we worship in song was very interesting to me, both in the participation and obvious interest of those assembled, and in the way it energized and encouraged me. Many of you had great insights and thoughtful questions. On the way home, Jo and I conversed more about how those gathered seemed to be very engaged.

We decided that the class actually illustrated some of the points we were trying to make. Singing is a great way to learn. It is a great way to express emotions that simply saying words cannot transmit. It helps us to build relationships, and perhaps even to define and refine the relationship.

Think about how many couples have a song that is “their song.” For many years now, the song “tale as old as time, song as old as rhyme…” has swelled my heart and often misted my eyes. It reminds me of how blessed I am that a woman as lovely and good as Jo has chosen to love a man like me. Every time we see the play or watch the movie and hear that song, it serves as a reminder to give the best of us to make the most of us. How much more true that is of the great songs and hymns of praise and thanksgiving to our God?

As was pointed out in the class the other night, the singing of songs helps formulate and solidify our beliefs. The more we sing about the love, grace, power, and mercy of God, the more we trust those truths and are willing to live our lives in honor of God.

Doesn’t that indicate that we ought to be singing our songs in our homes with our families? You want to build your children’s faith? Sing songs with them. Share the songs of your past with your teenagers, and get them to teach you the songs they are learning.

Psalm 19:14 “May the words of my mouth and the meditations of my heart be acceptable in your sight oh Lord, my rock and my Redeemer.”
Hebrews 13:15 “Through him then let us continually offer up a sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of lips that acknowledge his name.

Peace, Be Still

Like so many of you, I spent the early part of this week glued to the television coverage of Harvey’s trip through the Houston area. One night, Sunday I think, the prediction was that the rain in the League City area would end at about 2 am. So I stayed up and watched the news and the weather outside. When the rain subsided, I went to bed. Then the next day, or maybe the one following, the prediction was that the storm would subside a bit around 1:30. So I stayed up till about that time, again with an eye on the weather outside. 

One of my favorite miracles of Jesus is the one when he and the disciples were on the Sea of Galilee when a storm arose. Jesus was asleep in the back of the boat, but those with him were awake and worried about the ominous weather. When they woke him, he chided them for their little faith. Then he spoke to the storm. The winds died and the seas calmed. Peace came to them out of the storm.

When I thought about my weather watching as Harvey passed by, I thought of the disciples and realized I was acting just like them. I heard the message to me, and applied the words of Jesus to myself: “Peace, be still” .

Master, the tempest is raging
The billows are tossing high
The sky is o’er shadowed with blackness
No shelter or help is nigh
Carest Thou not that we perish?
How canst Thou lie asleep
When each moment so madly is threatening
A grave in the angry deep?
The winds and the waves shall obey my will, peace be still
Whether the wrath of the storm-tossed sea
Or demons or men or whatever it be
No water can swallow the ship where lies
The Master of ocean and earth and skies
They shall sweetly obey my will
Peace be still, peace be still
They all shall sweetly obey my will, peace, peace be still.

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